I am paid to be intimate with my psychotherapy clients – even with words – In-to-me-I-see. Which I was deprived of as a child of the fifties, essentially forced to believe the born-again crap that I would go to hell if I didn’t accept Jesus as my savior.
My dad was way ahead of his time despite our family’s religious addiction barrier, by being the more emotionally connected nurturer than my mother as she never wanted me, being a child of rape.
While in college, dad wrote me weekly intimate letters about his feelings, like not feeling loved by mom, his wife, yet was always being supportive of me: his card, written 11/1/65 is a good example where he writes a list of 12 things: “Just a quick note to let you know: 3) That I am very proud of you, 9) That you make comments and ask questions in ‘Bible’ and are not afraid to think and ask and how happy I am about that, 12) that I love you.” Yet, we were afraid to say I love you out loud to one another before he died of a sudden heart attack at the young age of 60, a sadness that continues throughout the Cosmos, a flower I plant yearly to honor him, being an astronomer.
Fast forward to raising my two daughters while still attending church, wiggling my way out slowly but surely of their misleading tunnel vision, keeping me from trusting my heart. I finally left in 1984 (how fitting😊) when my girls were 9 and 12, listening to myself, although still being a difficult longer-than-I’d-like road to shed societal and church intrenched shame to talk about sex.
Presently, my younger daughter, the mother of two of my granddaughters is embarrassed to acknowledge that her 75-year-old mother makes love with her husband, or to see his beautiful nakedness alone in a photo in our bedroom like a Renoir statute in a museum. This summer they visit me for my 75th birthday celebration, where her husband confronts me in front of their daughters, as to how I make it difficult to be close to my daughter, because I do not respect her feelings to take the photo down when they visit. I express my struggle as to whose feelings to respect, hers, or mine, but the photo being in my home, I chose to risk her rejection, to be true to myself. Trust and respect myself.
That same weekend, I ask my 19-year-old granddaughter what she felt about our family discussion. She readily replies, “It was good; it bears reflection.” Gladly, my relationship with my daughter continues to grow purer love during my October weekend visit, where they live near Boston.
This past October weekend before Halloween, after our lovemaking, my expressive husband says how “fantastic,” and “incredible,” and “I love you so much.” I say, “I love you right back!” Later, during our evening phone call you tell me how loving we were that morning, how “intimate;” the first time he has ever used that word after being spiritually married for a year.
Feeling a deeper connection, as I do when volunteering to stack chopped wood for an 86-year-old stranger who lives a few miles down the road, a pile I had bike-ridden by all summer, wondering whether to knock on his door, or just begin stacking. I choose the latter, and eventually a man ambles out on the deck using a cane, asking if I need a pair of gloves.
“No thanks, I like to feel the wood,” I smile.